What Will Biden Do?

Today, Jan. 20, 2020, as Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President, many Americans are asking, “What is Biden going to do as president?” The main concern for Biden is the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about other things? What about improving healthcare, immigration, criminal justice, and education? Well, here are some things that might answer your questions.

On his official campaign website (joebiden.com), Biden addresses the challenges ahead saying, “The battle to control the virus. The battle to build prosperity. The battle to secure your family’s health care. The battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country. The battle to save the climate. The battle to restore decency, defend democracy and give everybody in this country a fair shot. Our work begins with getting COVID under control.” So how and when will these statements become reality? 

According to buildbackbetter.com (Biden’s official transition website), Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris plan on doubling the drive-through testing sites. They also plan on free testing for all Americans and investing in next-generation testing, including home testing and instant testing. The Biden-Harris administration will support spending 25 billion dollars on vaccine manufacturing and distribution to get a vaccine to every American without cost. On the vaccine during the campaign Biden said, “This isn’t about politics. It’s about saving lives.” 

Following up on the topic of health is Biden’s plan for healthcare. The program will be similar to Medicare. With this, Americans would have the option for a Medicare-like government healthcare plan or choose their own private insurance. Biden’s plan also includes lowering the prices of prescription drugs, which Biden claims are “abusively priced generic drugs.” Buyers would also be able to purchase cheaper medications from other countries in hopes to mobilize competition. According to NBC News, undocumented immigrants will be a part of the public option. 

On the issue of immigration, Biden plans to take a much different approach to the United States immigration policy than outgoing President Donald Trump. Biden is planning on admitting 125,000 refugees per year and plans to raise that number over time, according to NPR. Biden also plans to immediately reverse the Trump administration policies that separate children from their parents at the border. There will also be an end to prolonged detention and asylum policies. Federal dollars will also be removed from funding the border wall, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be held accountable for inhumane treatment. Trump’s Travel Ban, which Democrats have attacked as a Muslim ban, will also be rescinded. Biden also has the ambitious goal of giving citizenship for the United States’ 10.5 million undocumented immigrants, according to Forbes.

After many social justice movements protested police brutality last summer. Biden, who has been a long time supporter of our police system, is now pushing for reformation. Biden also hopes to adopt a national use of force standard, purchase body cameras, and recruit more diverse police officers to start police reform. The Biden administration is also expected to investigate local police departments for possible constitutional violations, says The Washington Post.

Educators will be happy to hear that Biden aims to raise educator pay, and plans to invest in more resources to help students emotionally and physically prepare for their future. Biden’s policy hopes to ensure that no students’ future will be determined by where they live, income, disability, or race. The Biden administration acknowledges the fact that class sizes are growing, but the pay is not. Democrats hope this policy will reduce the number of teachers who have to work second jobs to support their families. 

After two surprising Democratic wins in the Georgia senate runoff, Biden will enter office with majorities in both houses of Congress and hopes to unify the country. Democrats have high hopes for Biden; Jeffersonville High School junior Kyndia Motley says, “The one thing I want Biden to do is to stand on his word. People hustled and fought for his position in office because he convinced us he was real and passionate. All I ask of him is to stand on his promise.” For Motley and other Americans, the main question is, what will Biden do?

Story by Marni Scholl

QAnon: What is it, and is it Dangerous?

According to several news sources such as CNN, many of the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol building yesterday were part of extreme factions including QAnon. So what, exactly, is QAnon?

QAnon is a group of conspiracy theorists that are reaching hundreds of followers every day. This is happening because people spend immense amounts of time on the internet due to boredom from the pandemic. It is estimated QAnon has at least 100,000 followers, according to Julia Carrie Wong from Theguardian.com. The FBI has even labeled the group as domestic terrorism. QAnon didn’t just show up entirely out of the blue, however. It has its origin and history. The popularity of this conspiracy theory has skyrocketed over the past few months. Though QAnon is primarily concerned with North American politics, some other countries like Latin America and Europe believe in it. 

QAnon followers believe an anonymous online figure called Q posts clues and information about a large-scale conspiracy where Donald Trump is in a battle with secret democrats, Hollywood elites, and billionaires such as Bill Gates.

QAnon had its start on the 4Chan and 8Chan subculture websites where people can post anonymously. 4-Chan has an alt-right user base often spreading doctored images and misinformation, says Oscar Gonzalez from Cnet.com. QAnon believers will gravitate to particular anonymous posts on 4Chan and other alt-right websites where they interpret the post as relevant to their grand conspiracy. Supposedly Q has a trip code that makes his posts recognizable from other anonymous users. Most of these conspiracies fade away, but according to Theguardian.com, QAnon had help. Three unnamed conspiracy theorists dug deep to supposedly translate Q’s posts to make it more digestible for a typical audience. 

The prime concern of QAnon followers is that they think the types of people listed above have links to pedophilia, child trafficking, and even satanism. They also believe these people drain the blood from abused children to harvest a life-extending chemical from the blood called Adrenochrome supposedly. This is derived from the anti-Semitic belief that Jewish people would murder Christian children and use their blood for drinking and baking. All of this has been debunked many, many years ago, as reported by Theguardian.com. 

Megan Cutter is the acting director of the US National Human Trafficking Hotline operated by Polaris. Polaris is a nonprofit organization that works to fight human trafficking and modern-day slavery says, NationalPublicRadio.org. Cutter states that “So far, these (conspiracies) are unproven and are taking away from the discourse around how trafficking happens.” QAnon is creating more of a roadblock for helping trafficked children. It is spreading incorrect information about how trafficking works. Megan Cutter said that QAnon believers see child trafficking as violently stealing children out on the streets and taking them away, which can be the case but is rarer. The most common child trafficking strategy is when the child knows their trafficker before they know their intentions. They build trust with the person. Traffickers will also go for more vulnerable children like children that have been abused, have poverty issues, or have faced systemic racism.  

So why should we be concerned about any of this? Unfortunately, conspiracy theories like this can have real-life implications and consequences. With the popularity of QAnon on the rise, believers can vote in candidates that have QAnon beliefs or similar beliefs. This could affect state governments, the national government, and even the presidency. In this last election, there were candidates for important government offices who do believe in this conspiracy. 

Majorie Taylor Greene, the 2020 winner of a House seat in Georgia, is a firm believer in the QAnon conspiracies. She is now recognized as QAnon’s first political victory, as reported by Kevin Roose from the NewYorkTimes.com. While Greene is a firm believer, some candidates only believe in certain aspects of the conspiracy theory. Republican candidate Lauren Boebert says she doesn’t engage with conspiracy theories. Still, she has openly stated that she hopes Q is real, according to Em Steck, Nathan McDermott, and Christopher Hickey on CNN.com. Another Republican candidate Mike Cargile says, “I started checking into it. And a lot of it I agree with. There’s are some fringe elements I don’t agree with,” An independent candidate, KW Miller, has posted numerous QAnon hashtags, engages in the conspiracies, and has promoted QAnon through Facebook ads. He claims that he does not endorse QAnon, but his followers do. Catherine Purcell, an Independent Party of Delaware candidate, has reposted many QAnon hashtags and content and claimed that not all of the posts are her beliefs, says CNN.com.

A doctor by the name of Hadi Halazun tells NBC News that on his Facebook page, a man left messages saying that, “No one’s dying” (of COVID19) and that it is all “Fake news.” Halazun tried to tell his first-hand experience with dealing with the virus. In a reply, he was told by another user that he wasn’t a real doctor because he attended concerts and music festivals. They even asked for his credentials, and once Hadi Halazun did so, he was kicked off their wall. Dr. Duncan Maru, a physician, and epidemiologist in Queens, New York, heard from his colleagues that a young man went into the emergency room. It turns out it was from drinking bleach that damaged his intestinal tract. President Trump did suggest injecting disinfectants into our bodies as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

Some think that QAnon will fizzle away now that President Trump has lost the 2020 election, but others feel that QAnon may stick around for a long time or at least awhile. What do you think?

Story by Marni Scholl
Image licensed from Vectorstock.com

The 2020 Crisis Around the World

From China to Yemen to Lebanon and more, the events of 2020 have affected others in the world

With everything that has happened so far this year, it’s not a stretch to call 2020 a crisis. It has been filled with unexpected events, such as COVID-19, racial justice protests, and even murder hornets. The rest of the world has not had it easy either and not just because of the pandemic. Yemen, Lebanon, and China have also experienced tragedies. Lebanon’s tragic event was abrupt, but what is going on in Yemen and China has been going on for years. 

On August 4 in Beirut, Lebanon, at least 154 were killed, and thousands were left injured, in a gigantic explosion at a warehouse in the Port of Beirut. The force from the blast left vast amounts of damage to the surrounding buildings and neighborhoods and produced a mushroom cloud of fumes and debris, a lot of which was harmful to breathe. The explosion was so powerful it could be felt 150 miles away. The explosion was caused by an ignited cache of ammonium nitrate, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound commonly used in fertilizers, but it can also be used to make explosives.  It was held at the site for over six years.

The ammonium nitrate was originally on a ship that was supposed to be delivered to the country of Georgia in 2013. Due to technical difficulties with the boat, it had to be docked in Beirut, and it was later abandoned there. The ammonium nitrate was stored in the warehouse that was supposed to dispose of the chemical safely. Officials at the port are now under house arrest as the investigation continues, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

More than a million Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minority groups are being held in the Xinjiang region of China. Uighurs are a Turkic speaking minority ethnic group originating from the general region of Central and East Asia. There has been conflict with China and Uighurs since 1931. China is referring to these sites as transformation camps. A woman named Gulzira who told her story to PBS Frontline said she was surrounded by mesh, barbed wire, cameras, and brutal treatment. She said that twice she had to sit on a hard chair for 24 hours and use the bathroom where she sat. She also told PBS, “If you exceeded two minutes in the toilet, they hit our heads with an electric prod.” 

Jeffersonville High School special education teacher David Russell taught in China for a while and has first hand experience seeing the work of the Chinese government. 

Russell says China likes the idea of complete conformity. “Any nail that sticks up is hammered down,” he says. That is why China has targeted those who follow certain religions. “I witnessed anti-Christian persecution. People got arrested for going to church. Their form of anti-Islam is just not conforming,” Russell says. “It’s Orwellian, and it’s gotten worse.” It will take many Chinese activists because many websites reporting on it are shut down, and the people running them are being arrested. However, Russell says that he doesn’t want to reflect poorly on the Chinese since he enjoyed his time living there, and he enjoyed the people he met.

Yemen is also harshly affected by the events of 2020, but it’s an existing problem that has become worse in their case. According to Islamic Relief USA, for about five years, Yemen has been in a famine. Famine is the extreme scarcity of food and is often caused by droughts. More than 85,000 children have died from the famine as of 2018. In May of 2020, UNICEF described Yemen as the most massive humanitarian crisis in the world. They are already starved, and as COVID-19 sweeps the area, their ability to find resources has worsened. Over 24 million people are in need. Hospitals often have no staff, no equipment, or even electricity. The doctors are so overwhelmed that they have to turn people away. Yemen’s child malnutrition rates are some of the highest in the world. About half of the children under five years old are growth stunted. 

Yemen is also a war-torn country where civil war has taken a terrible toll on the resources and infrastructure necessary to keep people healthy. This civil war resulted from continued violence and unrest from the Arab Spring (2014), where the people rose and tried to create a democracy.

Even as America is hit hard with COVID-19 and all the other challenges of 2020, often it is easy to forget the many other challenges happening all across the world. 

Written by Marni Scholl

World War 3?

Just two days into 2020, memes about a supposed World War III were trending. The memes became more popular as more concern started to rise about the possible World War III as President Trump and Iran’s president were having their Twitter war. An article on The Washington Post discussed the point that the memes might not be all fun and games. Some of the memes predict genuine fear from teenagers, while others are considered racist and rude. The real question is: what is actually going on? Sure the memes tell us there could be a world war, but if we are in danger, how so, or why do we even have a lousy relationship with Iran?

ww3meme

On Jan. 3, just after midnight on Iraqi time, the United States sent airstrikes into Iraq and hit Baghdad International Airport, killing Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was an Iranian military commander—leader of the foreign wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. The Trump administration targeted Soleimani in retaliation for reported attacks on Saudi Arabian oil tankers. 

The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani tweeted that he vows to take revenge “not only today but also in the coming years.” for U.S drone strike that killed Soleimani. U.S. president Donald Trump responded with a tweet saying that if Iran takes revenge, the U.S. will strike “very hard and very fast.” 

On Jan. 7, a military base in Iraq was attacked, but it was already evacuated. Trump has listed 52 Iranian target sites as possible retaliation to any military retaliation from Iran. Trump has made the number 52 because 52 Americans were taken hostage in 1979 by Iran for the takeover of the U.S embassy that same year. 

Trump said Iranian cultural sites are among the 52 identified targets, “at a very high level and important to Iran and Iranian culture.” 

Some of those 52 targets are cultural sites and attacking a cultural site puts Iranian citizens lives in danger and the U.S could be convicted of a war crime. Attacking cultural sites also limits education because it destroys cultural history.

For many years the relationship between the U.S and Iran has been tense, and with current events, it is now even more so. Concerns are now rising after news of Iran building a nuclear weapons program. According to NBC News, there is also a possibility that Iran is buying Uranium and other supplies from other countries. Trump has questioned why the U.S hasn’t used any nuclear weapons yet, and he has considered using them. Will World War III begin or is it all just over-thought concern? 

By Marni Scholl

Movie Review: Frozen 2 is a Dark, But Magical Story About Change

When you hear there is a sequel to a movie coming, your first reaction is that it will never amount to the first movie, or it just won’t be nearly as good or not good at all.

Frozen 2 is not one of those sequels. The six years were worth the wait; you could tell that the movie was well thought out and well made. The storyline is magical and dark. The story of Arendelle might not be as bright and pleasant as a usual Disney kingdom. The story can pull the heartstrings of the youngest of kids and the oldest of adults. A little boy in the theater asked aloud, “but, why?” during a sad scene. Kids could grasp the concept even though it got dark at times, but it was still intriguing for the older audience members.

Photo: Disney

The movie touched on the subject of growing pains and how everything changes and that you probably don’t want things to change. Olaf is mainly the one who realizes these changes. Elsa picks up on them too, but in a different kind of way. Anna seems not to see any changes, even when one affects her. Worrying about the changes in the future can remind you of the past and how it affects your future. Looking back at the memories of Elsa and Anna’s parents, they told the two of them a story of an enchanted forest. That’s where the story continues. There is a lot more than their Norwegen kingdom and the mountains where Elsa’s castle is. Even a whole sea more.

In the last movie, a whole lot of questions were left unsolved. What actually happened to Anna and Elsa’s parents? What was the parent’s story? Most importantly, how did Elsa get her powers? All of those questions will be answered in ways you probably never expected, and in a more-complicated-than-expected way. There are new questions to wonder about now. The movie ends on a cliffhanger, leaving speculation that there will be a third movie. There is more to continue with many new characters. Maybe Frozen will continue like the Ice Age saga and have five movies.

Once again, the music is excellent but different and original. The band, Panic at the Disco, even covers one of Elsa’s songs that is the first song played in the end credits. The movie features a song with Kristoff and his trusty reindeer Sven. The music is once again an absolute earworm, but you won’t be able to stop yourself from listening to it. Elsa also once again shows off her architectural skills with her ice powers during one of her main songs.

All the way around, Frozen 2 is a must-see, and if you stay till the end of the credits, there is a fun short scene like there was in the last Frozen movie.

Written by Marni Scholl

 

Speaking of Labels…What’s the Q+ About?

For many years, people used the term “LGBT” to describe the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender community. In recent years, you might have noticed a new addition at the end: “Q+”. The Q+ is meant to be more inclusive of people who identify with something that’s not in the traditional LGBT framework (such as Asexual
and Pansexual).

While it might not seem like a big deal, the distinction is important to many people —
and has actually become a hotly debated issue. A Jeff High student who wanted to be anonymous for this story says the Q+ isn’t needed: “Trans covers FTM (female to male), MTF (male to female), and non-binary (the feeling of being genderless). Lesbian and Gay cover that, and Bi covers Pan so that’s about it.”

On the other side is Amber Walker, a Jeff High student who prefers the Q+ addition because “Personally, I feel that there is a whole spectrum of possibilities that don’t fit into just four labels.”

On a recent Instagram poll, the votes for the acronym LGBT was just one person while the votes for LGBTQ+ were 17 people. Most of those polled were from the area, but some were not. An LGBTQ+ community member who voted is from a country where being a part of the community is looked down upon and it is illegal to attend Pride festivals and have samesex marriage without punishment.

Is this debate pointless? While representation is important, the LGBTQ+ community, whether you believe in the Q+ or not, is an accepting community for those of different sexualities and genders. Even though LGBTQ+ won our poll, your opinion is your opinion as long as you aren’t hurting anyone with it.

Student Views on E-Learning: The Pros and Cons

Over the summer, Greater Clark County Schools announced that instead of adding make-up days for school closures, the district will begin to use online learning. Other schools in our area have already adopted E-Learning.

Jeffersonville High School students’ views on E-Learning are mostly supportive, but some students have their doubts about it. On an Instagram poll made by a Hyphen staff member, 67% of people supported E-Learning and 33% did not support it.

Jade Worrall, a Jeffersonville High School sophomore, said, “We don’t have to make up any days, so our breaks are longer, and you don’t have to work that hard.”

Chaela Austin, a Charlestown sophomore, says that her hometown, Scottsburg, has been doing it for years and that it works and it will probably be very beneficial to Greater Clark County Schools. This could also inspire other schools to start E-Learning by hearing the positive feedback from schools like Jeff.

On the other hand, a Jeff High student who did not want to disclose their name for this story thinks it won’t work: “Kids aren’t going to do it and take the F,” Others expressed concern that students could struggle with connectivity issues at home or other home-related issues that may interfere with getting the work done.

This feedback mirrors what other school districts have reported after implementing E-Learning. According to studyinternational.com, there are both pros and cons.

The pros are: not having to make up snow days and also having easier work for the students on those days. It can also be useful if a student misses a day of school because they are ill. The E-learning site is also accessible offline.

The cons are: you still need the internet if you need to contact a teacher. If a student’s Chromebook is broken and they don’t have another device at home, they can’t do their work. Younger students who don’t have Chromebooks may not be able to do these activities, though, which will put them behind.

 

By Marni Scholl